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Vicugna vicugna

Vicuñas are the smallest members of the camel family.

They were held in high regard by the ancient Inca population but, after south America was conquered by Spain, uncontrolled hunting for wool and meat almost destroyed the species. Strict protection laws have helped the animals to recover but they are still dependent on conservation measures, such as zoo breeding programs.

Belfast Zoo has successfully bred this endangered species for many years, in their mountain top enclosure with stunning views across Belfast Lough.

Animal class


Conservation status

The IUCN does not believe the vicuna are in danger of going extinct as they are Least Concern.




The vicuña population declined drastically in the 1960s. However, due to conservation measures there are now 350,000 vicuñas living in the wild. Their numbers are increasing steadily.


Herbivore. Vicuñas graze on short grass.